11 Best Pilates Exercises to Strengthen Your Core

woman holding ring doing pilates exercise

Laura Wilson

Crouching in front of the computer all day can lead to poor posture and back pain. Did you know that spending so much time sitting can weaken your core? While walking can help get your legs moving during the work day, Pilates is also a wonderful way to improve posture and strengthen your core.

“Pilates focuses on strengthening all of the muscles that stabilize the trunk and spine, collectively called ‘the core’,” says Laura Wilson, founder of Natural Pilates. The result? Better posture. “People often feel taller after doing Pilates for a few months. Pilates practitioners don’t actually gain inches, but as the abdominal muscles get stronger, posture improves. “

How Pilates Can Help You Tone

Pilates is a form of exercise and conditioning developed by Jospeh Pilates in the early 1920s as an injury recovery method for dancers. “Pilates is a form of resistance training and helps build lean muscle mass,” says Wilson. “The more muscle mass a person has, the more calories they can burn at rest.”

Pilates is an accessible way for people of all ages to strengthen their muscles. “Because many of the exercises can be performed sitting or lying on the side, Pilates can easily be performed even when a person cannot bear weight or has an injury,” says Wilson. “It’s low impact and helps strengthen the body’s smaller support muscles.”

Pilates is great on its own, but you can improve your pilates exercises by using equipment such as a resistance band, stability ball, dumbbells, and a pilates hoop. But all you need is a mat to get started. To help you strengthen your core, Wilson outlined 11 Pilates exercises to try at home today.

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Repetitions: Repeat 10 times on each side.

How: Start on your back with your spine flat and your legs in a tabletop position (90 degree bend at the hips and knees). If the tabletop is too hard to stabilize or causes pain, keep the non-working leg down (knee bent with flat foot). Inhale and, keeping the knee bent at a 90 degree angle, lower one foot towards the mat. Exhale and bring the leg back to the table top using the core. Remember to keep your back flat. Only go low in range of motion as long as your spine remains flat.

Repetitions: 10-30 repetitions. Add rotation for more oblique focus.

How: Start by sitting with your legs together or hip-width apart. Put a medicine ball behind your back (closer to the lower back is more challenging; closer to the shoulder blades provides more support). Your hands can be crossed on our chest or behind your head. Inhale to prepare and, as you exhale, creak towards the center as you squeeze your ribs towards your hips. Inhale and release back.

3

Return halfway with the circle

Repetitions: 5-10 repetitions.

How: Start by sitting high on your butt bones with your legs together or hip-width apart. Holding a Pilates ring between your knees, inhale to prepare and, as you exhale, keep your feet low and roll halfway back, creating a C-curve in your lower back. He inhales to hold and exhales to squeeze the ring in his hands 10 times. Inhale to return to the starting position.

4

Half return with rotation

Repetitions: Repeat 3-5 sets.

How: Start by sitting high on your butt bones with your legs together or hip-width apart. Holding a Pilates ring in his hands, he inhales to prepare you and, as you exhale, keep your feet low and roll halfway back, creating a C-curve in your lower back. Inhale to hold, exhale to twist to one side as you squeeze the ring in your hands 10 times. Inhale to hold, exhale on the other side.

5

Lateral leg raiser with ball

Repetitions: Repeat 10-20 times on each side.

How: Begin lying on your side with your head resting on your lower arm and your upper hand in front of your torso to maintain balance. With legs straight and hips stacked together, he inhales to prepare and exhale with both legs off the mat. Keep your legs together and resist them touching the floor. To increase the challenge, add a ball between your ankles.

Repetitions: Do 5-10 sets, then hug your knees to your chest and swing from side to side.

How: Start lying on your back with a neutral spine. Inhale to prepare and, as you exhale, flatten your back, then articulate your spine into a bridge one vertebra at a time. Inhale to hold up and exhale to slowly squeeze the ball for about 10-20 dunks. Breathe in and out to slowly make small pulses with your hips (about 10-20 pulses). Inhale to hold and exhale to roll back onto the mat.

7

External rotation of the hip lying on the side

Repetitions: Do 20 repetitions, then do 10 leg circles in each direction.

How: Lie on your side with your knees and hips bent at a 90 degree angle. Put the band on your knees. Inhale to prepare and exhale as you open your knees at hips with your heels together and your hips stacked. Lower to start position for one rep. (If it’s too intense, you can discard the resistance band.)

Repetitions: Repeat 10 times on each side.

How: Start on all fours with your shoulders stacked on your wrists and your hips stacked on your knees. He inhales and stretches one leg back. Exhale and lift one leg only until your back remains flat like a table (don’t allow the spine to arch). Inhale and lower your leg. Exhale and lift your leg. leg Note: This exercise can be performed with the knee bent or straight (more advanced) or a ball to the knee.

9

Shoulder extension with rotation

Repetitions: Repeat 10-20 times on each side.

How: Start on all fours with your shoulders stacked on your wrists and your hips stacked on your knees. Put a light dumbbell in your right hand. Inhale to prepare and exhale to extend your arm back towards your hip as you rotate your body to the right to open your chest towards the ceiling. Inhale to return to the starting position with your shoulders aligned with the mat and lower arm. Take a Child’s Pose Stretch between the sides.

Repetitions: Repeat 5-10 sets.

How: Start on all fours with your shoulders stacked on your wrists and your hips stacked on your knees. He inhales to prepare you and, as you exhale, stretch your right arm forward and your left leg back. Inhale to lower the starting position. Exhale and switch sides to bring the left arm forward and the right leg back. Inhale to lower to start. Lower to start.

Repetitions: Hold for 10-60 seconds.

How: Start on all fours with your shoulders stacked on your wrists and your hips stacked on your knees. Step back one foot, then the other back, creating a long line with the body. Press the ground to extend your shoulders and tuck your tailbone under.

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